LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– Three of the four Democratic candidates running for Governor squared off on LEX 18 Wednesday in the first televised debate between the candidates.
Attorney General Andy Beshear, House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, and former State Auditor Adam Edelen were at the debate which was held at Transylvania University.
It was hosted by ‘Hey Kentucky’, with the show’s host Matt Jones serving as moderator.
“Well, we’re going to talk about the pension crisis. I think that’s probably the most important issue facing the state. But I also want to talk about done or the social issues including gun control, marijuana, the opioid crisis. So there’s a lot of stuff, and I want people to get a chance to know them. Most people only know their names and the goal is to get them to learn more about why they’re running,” said Jones before the debate.
Earlier in the day, Governor Matt Bevin posted a preemptive shot at the candidates, saying the debate should be held in New York or California.
“The ideas that you hear are tired, they’re backward, they’re backward looking. These socialist ideas are the kinds being espoused by young voices coming out of New York and tired, old voices coming out of California. They’re not what’s best for us,” he said.
What specifically would you do as governor to fix the pension crisis today and going forward?
“The issue is that teacher’s paid their 13% in every month and the politician’s did not. The bigger issue is on the Kentucky retirement system side, which was a playground for “good ole boys” where political appointees went, were wined and dined, by Wall Street, who weren’t looking out for the best interest of pensioners in Kentucky, and the people who pay the freight, the tax payers. We need to reform the system, and we need to make sure we fund it.”
“The Pension issue itself, me being there, and me being a part of trying my best to reform and bring the pension system out of two crashes of the stock market, the greatest recessions of our lifetime in 2013, 2008, and 2010, but I want to speak to 2013 in a very, very bipartisan way, with stakeholders at the table, and I would tell you, that’s how any reform should be done. With stakeholders at the table and in a bipartisan way. In 13, we passed those reforms and they’re working… Pension oversight board and we also put in place, basically, we would fully fund the ark and we did a 3 million dollar audit of the system. Numbers don’t lie, since we put it in place, basically, KRS Kentucky Retirement System over the last few years has earned over 4 billion dollars, Kentucky Teacher Retirement, year before last, earned over 15.5%, and the last year, Kentucky Teacher Retirement 18.4%. Keep the 13 reforms and fully fund as we move forward.”
“I’m a fighter who gets results. Folks, we desperately have to beat Matt Bevin this fall, and I’m the man with the track record for doing so.”…“I believe a pension is a promise. I went to public school right here in Fayette County and I owe my teacher’s so much. I am committed to fully funding theirs and everyone’s pension every year that I’m in office. We are gonna keep that promise. And it’s time, it’s time we created that dedicated revenue stream for our pensions. It’s time we finally enacted extended gaming which would generate up to $550 million, it’s time that we considered passing medicinal marijuana, which could generate even more. It’s time we had a more fair tax structure where if you buy a private jet, you have to pay that sales tax, and it’s time we stop giving corporate tax breaks to companies that don’t pay a living wage. All of those revenues are going to go towards our pension system, and we’re going to keep that promise.”
Would you support free college tuition to public schools?
“I believe that free tuition, whether it’s to community colleges, or to our universities, where we can make it work is a great idea, but it is only one step. Right now, we’ve seen cuts to our K-12 programs, our teachers are teaching out of books held together by duct tape and we don’t have the technology in our classrooms because our kids aren’t competing with Indiana, they’re competing with India. Listen, I believe in public education so much, I selected a teacher as my running mate.”…“I think we have to invest in our people as much as possible. And I think when we look at those scholarships, we gotta start with our underserved communities where our government has actually kept them down instead of picking them up. Investing in scholarships in our black communities, investing in scholarships in our poorest communities. That’s where we ought to start, and we ought to work towards universal pre-k too. A teacher on your ticket will tell you how important that is.”
“I think we certainly should start with our community and technical colleges, and if we do it completely free, it would cost the state about $300 million, if we did it the last dollar in system like we did in Tennessee, it would cost about 40 million dollars, but folks, we got to talk about, it’s great to talk about all the things that we want to do, and the lawsuits we file, but if you want to create real action, you have to have money to make this work, and when we have a system that is so outdated, think about the fact that in Kentucky, we don’t tax vaping the same way we tax cigarettes, when every parent of a middle school child, me included, is rightfully concerned about this. When we’re giving away dollars and not insisting that they come back to the state or be monitored through handouts to the form of corporate welfare, we can do better, and we must, but for all of these folks who pay pie in the sky proposals about what they’re gonna do, the question is how do you pay for it, Matt? And I hope we can spend a lot of time talking about that.”
“I’m glad to see both of these gentlemen on stage agree with my initiative because it’s what we need to do, and it’s what we have to do if we want to compete with 17 other states that have already implemented free community and technical college throughout the United States. If we’re gonna compete in this global economy, then we gotta make sure that we have a highly educated, highly trained, and a highly skilled workforce. If we’re gonna compete in an economy, where Kentucky’s number one industry happens to be the aerospace industry, and a chance to rebuild economies all over Kentucky. A chance to lift up rural areas of this state in a way that we never thought we could. While we fight for the jobs of today, but we prepare Kentucky for the jobs of tomorrow, public education is gonna be the key. And making sure that we have a highly skilled, a highly trained workforce, we can do this with community and technical college. We can do this with the Pell Grant and the KEES money to send kids to 4-year institutions as well.”
Healthcare and ACA Expansion
“It (Medicaid expansion) ended a hundred-year experiment in Kentucky of having a large uninsured population, and ladies and gentlemen, that approach gave you the worst healthcare outcomes in America, and it darn near bankrupted us. It was absolutely the right thing to do, to embrace the Medicaid expansion, and now we lead the nation in having reduced our very large uninsured population. But I do have criticisms of it. Almost immediately upon expanding Medicaid, we handed out oversight of the program to a set of largely for-profit manage care organizations, and the fact of the matter is, as auditor, I investigated this thoroughly, we had a huge mess at the beginning of this, where private providers were not being reimbursed for the care that they provided, these middlemen were taking a lot of money, And so, I think it’s important, now that we’re approaching a decade of the Medicaid expansion, we really do need to do a comprehensive top to bottom review of the effectiveness of manage care in Kentucky.”
“I stand here tonight as a 24-year cancer survivor. I’ve had needles in my arms, I’ve had chemo, I’ve had radiation. Expanding Medicaid is one of the best things that we have done here in Kentucky to reduce the number of people that don’t have health insurance from 19% to almost 6%. I was there as majority leader as we discussed and we talked about the expansion of that.” ….. “The changes that probably need to be looked at is where can we save money at? Well, let me tell ya there’s a place called Pharmacy Benefit Managers. Pharmacy Benefit Managers, they put in place a price that comes down, and they cut off the middle of their earnings, and from their earnings, they make a lot of money. We could probably save as much as $200 million if we let the State go back to manage this program and actually do the efficiencies that need to be done. This waiver that this governor’s put in is wrong and it’s bad for the healthcare industry as well.”
“Healthcare is a basic human right and every single Kentucky family should be able to go see a doctor when they’re sick. But there is talk, and there is action, and I don’t just talk about supporting healthcare, I’m fighting for it right now. There are three national lawsuits where your federal government is trying to tear away federal health reforms that are so important. They’re trying to tear away mandatory coverage for preexisting conditions. That’s half of all Kentuckians. They’re trying to re-allow discrimination and charge women more for the same coverage as men. They’re trying to reinstitute a lifetime cap and I tell ya how deadly that is, if you’ve seen our first ad, it features Lucas, he is an amazing 8-year-old that also has Type 1 Diabetes, with a lifetime cap, at 8, he’d already be out of everything his insurance carrier wants to pay., I’m fighting in all three of those lawsuits and we’ve already won one. I’m also the only candidate with a healthcare plan. It’s on andybeshear.com. Read about it. And I’m the only one taking action to lessen costs because we have launched an investigation of that middleman, that Pharmacy Benefit Manager, to make sure Kentuckians are being treated fairly.”
Is there a future in Eastern Kentucky for coal? Do you think the coal industry can continue, and considering its historic decline, what specific economic industries can come to the mountains and help?
“Well, I can tell ya this, that the coal industry will continue to exist but not to the levels that it has in the past. And I can tell you that over the last 30 years that I have served in the Kentucky House of Representatives, we have built the infrastructure in rural Kentucky and specifically Eastern Kentucky. Better roads and bridges for access, expanded water and sewer. Communities now that have a regional airport to handle corporate jets. Regional Industrial Parks now that we’re ready to use and be able to benefit us as we attract the industries of the future. As governor, and from rural Kentucky, standing on this stage that’s suffered from the economies of Eastern Kentucky and the downturn of the coal economy, you’re looking at a guy who will have a vision every day of how we rebuild rural Kentucky, but how we lift up the economic hinges of the urban areas as well. The aerospace industry is one of the places we can do it. We’re educating that workforce here now. It’s our number one export industry, a 12.5 billion dollar industry. Aviation school, space science center, this is where we diversify, this is how we build a new economy.”
“Climate change is real. But don’t take my word for it. Ask any Kentucky farmer who has to deal with the changing weather patterns. Ask the U.S. military that is already preparing for it and putting those plans in place. We have to diversify our energy portfolio, protect as many jobs as we can, but create as many new jobs as we can, but we have to do it responsibly. Because every year, our utilities try to raise the cost of power and water to levels that people can’t pay. Listen, I was in Pikeville about two years ago, when a 9-year-old child told me that all he wanted for Christmas was to have the lights turned back on. We have to be responsible as we move this new energy economy. As attorney general, I’ve had to fight to cut a billion dollars off rate increases all over this state.”….“We have to have that diverse energy portfolio all around the state, and we have to do it at a pace and a way that we never turn off any family’s lights just because they don’t make enough money. “
“Well folks, they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Andy that was the most flattering thing you’ve ever said about me. My goodness people. When a candidate for governor gets up and literally mimics the speech that you gave several months ago, it tells you you must be doing something right. Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Eastern Kentucky cannot rely on the platitudes from talking points politicians to create the economy of the future. They need to adopt a 21st-century leader as governor who has actually done it. Later this year, we will break ground on a $130 million capital investment, Matt Bevin, not a dime of that from the taxpayers. My partner is a coal company. We will put 600,000 solar panels on a 700-acre mountain top removal site and create jobs for at least 200 to 300 out-of-work miners. Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t cheap talk. This isn’t parroting someone else’s talking points. These are the words and the leadership demonstrated by somebody who has actually done it.”…”There is a future for Metallurgical coal, which is the coal that is required to produce steel. The coal that is used to produce energy, thermal coal, is really in serious decline and we’re seeing it all over the country.”
Next – Who did you vote for in 2016? Who would you vote for now?
Beshear: Sec. Clinton. Not sure about 2020.
Edelen: Sec. Clinton. Not sure about 2020
Adkins: Sec. Clinton. “I’m not focused on that.”
— Conor McCue (@Conor_WLEX) April 24, 2019
Medicinal Marijuana and Recreational Marijuana
“I’m for medicinal marijuana, and I’m for doing it right now. And I am the only candidate that is for decriminalizing a half ounce or less of marijuana. We just cannot afford folks in a state this broke to spend 50 million dollars a year prosecuting 11,000 people for possession of small amounts of marijuana. It’s dumb. It’s expensive, and it’s also terribly racist in its application. So this is a chance for us to do the right thing.” …… “We have to walk before we run. And by decriminalizing it, it affords us the opportunity to prepare local communities for what they would do in the event this experiment worked and we wanted to go to full-blown legalization.”
“Serving in the General Assembly and having the chance to be a co-sponsor of the medical marijuana bill, I studied the research of both scientific and medical evidence that without question, being a cancer survivor, as I have mentioned, that there is no question that for certain medical conditions, medical marijuana is the right approach. That can’t even pass the General Assembly on a 16 to 1 vote coming out of the committee, it didn’t even get a vote on the House floor from the majority party in Frankfort, Kentucky.”…”Recreational, Kentucky is not ready. I’m not for it yet. I agree, we gotta walk before we run. Medical marijuana needs to be debated. It needs to be passed in Kentucky.
“As you know, I’m for medicinal marijuana, and folks, I’m the top law enforcement official in the state. I didn’t come to this lightly. But I have seen the devastation of opioids. I have met with and held hundreds now of parents that have lost children to this epidemic and we have got to have a way to treat chronic pain that doesn’t load medicine cabinets up with things that make people addicted and give hundreds of billions of dollars to companies that have caused deaths of Kentuckians. But when it comes to keeping people out of jail, I’ve actually acted. We’ve funded the rocket docket for several years, which moves people out of the criminal justice system into treatment as quickly as they can get it.”….” Every state that’s done recreational right, has done medicinal first. It helps you put the procedures in place. Being Attorney General, I know that I can do that responsibly because we have to do it right. Real prescription, controls over dispensaries, it has to be done in an orderly way.”
If Roe V. Wade were to be overturned with the new Supreme Court, and a bill came before you as Governor banning abortion in the state of Kentucky, would you sign it?
“When you take an oath of office, you take an oath of office to not only uphold the laws of the land, but the constitution of the United States of America. So on that law, or any other, I would uphold the constitution and the law of the land.”….”My answer would be yes, because if that was the law of the land, and that was basically the constitution and it had been implemented by the Supreme Court, yes.”
“I’m pro-choice. And I support Roe V. Wade. And any bill that came to me as governor, banning that procedure, I would veto it and veto it immediately. And some people will talk about their position on this, but again, I’ve actually acted. When the legislature passed an unconstitutional bill in 2016 attacking reproductive rights, I refused to defend it. This year, when they tried to pass an unconstitutional bill attacking those rights, I told them we’d lose in court. I even submitted a brief in front of the Sixth Circuit supporting reproductive rights. They are constitutional and they are the right rights.”
“I would veto it. Because folks, to build a modern Kentucky, you can’t do that without recognizing the full equality of women. And you can’t recognize the full equality of women if you don’t trust them enough to make their own healthcare decisions. And my ticket is the only one in which both the candidate for governor and the candidate for lieutenant governor are unapologetically supportive of a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions. This is incredibly important. And we need to make sure that you have absolute clarity in a candidate for governor who is going to protect this important right.”
LIVE: The 2019 Hey Kentucky Democratic Gubernatorial Debate hosted at Transylvania University will start at 7 p.m.
Posted by LEX 18 on Wednesday, April 24, 2019